What do they want? More female toilets
Guangzhou may become the first mainland city to require by law that public toilets for women exceed those for men by 50 per cent.
The potential move comes after a popular 'occupy male toilets' campaign launched by women in the city at the weekend, and mirrors a change being considered in Hong Kong which would require that new shopping malls, cinemas and offices be equipped with more female latrines.
The Guangzhou campaign has drawn intense online debate and garnered support among online microblog users, including men.
Local media such as the Yangcheng Evening News reported yesterday that Guangzhou officials, in a swift response to the protest by students, had called for legislation to increase toilets for women.
Media reported a statement from local authorities to the effect that there were an inadequate number of female cubicles in public areas such as malls, tourist spots, sports stadiums and along highways. Officials also claim they issued an order last March calling on government departments to increase the male-to-female toilet ratio to at least 1:1.5.
Two female university students started the 'occupy male toilets' campaign on Sunday in Guangzhou's Yuexiu Park.
One of the campaigners, 22-year-old Li Maizi, who is studying public administration in Xian said the government's quick response exceeded her expectations, as did the massive online support for the campaign. 'I have always liked Guangzhou,' she said. 'The city is considered quite open and is always a pioneer in new policies in the country.'
However, she was not entirely pleased with the response. 'A minimum acceptable ratio should be no less than 1:2, or better yet 1:2.3,' she said. 'According to research, females spend 2.3 times longer than males in toilets, and there are also more female shoppers in malls. Everyone encounters the problem ... on a daily basis: girls as well as men with wives, girlfriends or mothers.'
She said she would extend the campaign in cities such as Xian and raise the proposal with National People's Congress deputies for consideration on a national scale.